George Edward Woodberry, Esq.,
Dear Sir:—

I have been making considerable study of your collected poems of late, and the more I have read the greater has been my desire to write a letter of appreciation to you. It has always seemed to me that a word of appreciation even from the least to the greatest could hardly be considered out of place, especially by a man whose soul is great enough to make a poet of him. Also, there is among all true lovers of Beauty a tie that binds. And in my way I am one of these.

Although I had read your work in periodicals from time to time, I had never quite discovered you until my friend, Mr. Ledoux of New York, put me in the way of seeing you in your true bigness. Since then I have placed your poems in that portion of my library sacred to Shelley and Keats. I place you between these, for I think I have discovered your spiritual kinship to both of them, although I feel that you are nearer the former.

In my correspondence with Mr. Ledoux there have been for me many interesting developments; but when he spoke of you as a man with whom he was acquainted, I experienced a feeling of awe when I touched his letter, and I found myself quoting:

Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,
And did he stop and speak to you
And did you speak to him again?
How strange it seems and new!

I am one of those who prostrate themselves before genius — and that alone. If you no longer do this yourself, I feel safe in saying that there was a time when you could do this and be utterly sincere.

I beg you to believe that I have not written this letter with the vulgar desire of obtaining your autograph. I have merely wished to let you know that on the prairies of the West there is another who admires you.

I judge from Mr. Ledoux's correspondence that this will find you in Sicily. I hope that it will find you with that unfailing belief in self which is the strength of the artist. The world needs great poets now and always; and you have a great mission. I know that your poetical work is not yet read by the many — perhaps it never shall be. And to me this is not the smallest portion of the praise which you receive. I think Shelley could have spoken a wise word on this subject. The world at large does not ask for its great artists. They come of their own accord and establish themselves in the hearts of men only under protest. They are the guests who ultimately can not be denied.

It does my soul good to feel that we have a poet of large dimensions among us. To a lover of Beauty there is much of discouragement in the present day commercialism. The majority of our countrymen are hopelessly sordid in their ambitions. They know nothing of that Upper Air which all of us may breathe if we wish.

O the poor foolish ones who think that wealth means money! Long after these silly heaps of stocks and bonds have ceased to exist except in fables with bitter morals, you and the few others among us who sing of the higher life, will be living, breathing realities.

You know all this; but I wanted you to know that a new friend, living far away from you, has applied these truths to your life and work.

If you had written nothing but "He ate the Laurel and is Mad" and that exquisite first lyric in "Siena", you should have been deeply impressed upon my heart. But when you wrote "My Country", all good Americans became your debtors, although they may not be conscious of the fact.

I want to see you the Shelley of the western world.

Most sincerely yours,

Jno. G. Neihardt